The 2019 World Cup is under way across France and the players of New York City Football Club are here for it. Here’s how some of the team will be supporting their favorite national team and checking out the matches:
Defender Sebastien Ibeagha is rooting for Nigeria’s Super Falcons but his favorite female footballer right now is Carli Lloyd.
He will most likely watch the majority of the games from the comfort of his couch and if he gets an urge to grab some of his favorite Nigerian foods, he “can easily find them in New York”.
Native New Yorker James Sands is supporting the United States. He too is a fan of Carli Lloyd and plans to watch the matches at home with his family. Sands’ favorite game day snack? Chips and Salsa. And who does he think are the toughest teams in the tournament? “France and the USA”
Valentín “Taty” Castellanos
Taty Castellanos will be cheering for Team Argentina from his home in New York. His favorite Argentine dishes are Asados or Milanesas con pure, which can be found in select Argentine restaurants in the city. Castellanos likes Argentina’s chances to take home the Cup.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver is a fan of Team USA. He too enjoys watching the games from the comfort of his couch, possibly while indulging in his favorite game day “watching sports” snack of chicken wings. His favorite player in the tournament? Tobin Heath. Stuver predicts a battle between France and the US in the quarterfinals.
New York, New York: The city so nice, their team scores twice for the visiting team. Who said that New Yorkers weren’t hospitable? New York City Football Club proved to be a humble host to FC Cincinnati on Thursday by putting two goals into the back of their own goal.
In a beautiful spring evening celebrating LGBTQ pride in New York City, NYCFC took control quickly over the match. MLS newbies FC Cincinnati had trouble stringing together passes and gave away their limited possession in the middle third of the field.
NYCFC accessed its roster depth via some lineup changes. Due to to injuries and international call-ups City was without a mix of starters, including Sean Johnson, Alexander Callens, Ben Sweat, Ronald Matarrita and Ebenezer Ofori.
The team also appeared to be utilizing about five forwards in a bold play for a big win. The first thirty minutes would have been tough to watch if you were a FC Cincinnati fan as NYCFC scored about 1 goal every 10 minutes of play. However, in the 37th minute, NYC did foul up a defensive play in the box and suffered an own goal, which was “credited” to Héber. Half time score was 3-1, making it once again a ball game.
In the second half, within minutes Héber put in another one off a Maxi Moralez assist. In a quick sequence of events in the 76th minute, Brad Stuver made a difficult punch save off a hard FCC shot but the ball ricocheted off the leg of Sebastien Ibeagha and went into the back of New York City’s goal, making the score 4-2.
Still not content in the 90th minute with the victory claimed, NYCFC finished off the match with a gorgeous weaving pattern into the box where the master of webs finished off the ball via a difficult angle.
Moralez was credited in this match with three assists and one goal, Héber had a brace, while Alexandru Mitrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi had one a piece. Also worth noting is homegrown Brooklynite Justin Haak made his debut in the second half.
This match was a definite team effort while being down some starters, and while giving the guests a few goals to help with their goal differential. A win all around for NYCFC. However, this news put a definite damper on the celebratory vibes:
Dome Torrent confirmed James Sands suffered a broken arm and will be out for 3-4 weeks #NYCFC
The anchor of NYCFC’s defensive line suffered a broken arm in a collision with Stuver near the end of the match. Although this is bad news for the team, he may only miss two league games. Fans of the team are hoping for a speedy recovery for Sands.
New York City Football Club concluded its long road trip with another draw versus Columbus Crew SC on Saturday. This result comes a week after another midwestern road tie versus the Chicago Fire. This particular match was a celebration and farewell party to Crew keeper Zack Steffen, who is heading off to Manchester City, (but not before New York City put two goals past him.)
photo: Columbus Crew SC
photo: Columbus Crew SC
The match started a bit flat for NYCFC with most early momentum carried by the Crew’s Gyasi Zardes. A foul in the box called on City’s Alex Callens resulted in a successful Zardes penalty kick, putting the Crew up 1-0 in the 28th minute. Héber made it level for New York at 57′ when he scooped up an errant touch by Maxi Moralez off a centering pass by Ismael Tajouri-Shradi. Héber has been doing a bang up job of anticipating the rebound and putting himself in a position to capitalize on these balls.
Columbus jumped ahead again a few minutes later when David Accam found a wide open Pedro Santos who buried the ball past Sean Johnson. There seemed to be some failure amongst defenders Callens, James Sands and Maxime Chanot in marking Santos, leaving Johnson a bit defenseless.
Moment of the match for New York City happened in the 75th minute when Alex Ring’s steady defensive pressure allowed him to collect the ball and find a wide open Taty Castellanos who scored a stunner from about 30 yards out. If the team can continue to scoop up scrappy goals in the box and score from way outside the box, the season is looking up. Despite the lack of a win, walking away from that game with a point doesn’t feel bad.
If it seems like it’s been a while since NYCFC played at home, well that’s because the last home appearance was on April 27th. This past four-game away streak brought the team 8 points via 2 wins and 2 draws. City now has the title of the team with the most draws in the league with 8. Nope, there is no crown for this “honor” but next in line to the throne would be both Sporting Kansas City and Vancouver Whitecaps which have drawn 6 times thus far this season.
Another statistic to keep in mind is that the Eastern conference standings are relatively meaningless when there are huge discrepancies in number of games played. NYCFC (currently sitting in 6th place) has only played 13 matches, while Montreal Impact (ahead in the standings by one position) have played 17. Obviously, City can potentially gain more points and move ahead in the standings, however the matches in early July could be challenging in the form of Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and our friends from across the river, the Red Bulls.
New York City Football Club continued to show its developing form in its unexpected win over LA Galaxy. With a return of anchor defender James Sands from injury, the team looked calm and settled. One slight change to the lineup was the swapping out of the injured Ebenezer Ofori, out with a core injury, for Tony Rocha in a center midfield role. NYCFC faced a Galaxy who were without Jonathan Dos Santos, Rolf Feltscher, Romain Alessandrini and showed some struggle to gather attacking chances particularly without Dos Santos.
The Boys in Blue excelledin their passing accuracy in the attacking half and the final third and this kept them steady and in control of much of the game. New York City did an excellent job of defending but the clear and obvious strategy by LA of always trying to serve the ball up to Zlatan Ibrahimovich made the Galaxy seem predictable and easier to defend. Where LA did a good job of accurately crossing the ball, the NYC defenders knew how to position themselves in order to quickly destroy the play. Alex Callens was particularly efficient at slowing down or destroying LA’s attempts to propel their attack.
New York’s first goal was scored by Héber on a rebound of an Anton Tinnerholm shot. Héber has clearly settled into his #9 role, making a go of any loose balls in the box. He has scored 3 goals and had 3 assists in the 7 games he’s played since he joined the team. Not only does Heber do his job well, he looks like he’s enjoying himself the whole time.
The second goal was scored on a play in LA’s box that was first called as an offside on City but ended up as a handball call on LA via VAR. Incredulously, Maxi Moralez stepped up to take the penalty kick, leaving most fans screaming at their screens “No! Anyone but Maxi!” as Moralez’s last two attempts at PKs this season were failures.
Moralez ended up burying this ball in the back of the net. For the record, Héber should take these PKs but perhaps out of respect and seniority he deferred to Moralez.
NYCFC has successfully and repeatedly made good use of the wingback role, with particular ease when the roles are executed by Tinnerholm and Ronald Matarrita. The match did end on a strange note with a seemingly frustrated Ibrahimovich and NYCFC’s goalkeeper Sean Johnson in a tangle of alleged body bumps and hands to the neck resulting in both players being booked on yellow cards.
It’s still early in the season but NYCFC have now moved up to 4th place in the Eastern Conference behind Philadelphia, DC and Montréal with their next call to arms on 5/25 in another away match versus Chicago Fire.
After an inconsistent start to the 2019 season, New York City Football Club appears to have found their groove with a 2-0 win over Montreal Impact. The victory was, in part, due to solid play by the misunderstood Ben Sweat and smart strategy by the often-maligned Head Coach Dome Torrent.
Prior to this match, it looked like City had found a solid starting lineup:
However, injuries to Alexandru Mitrita, James Sands, and Ronald Matarrita suddenly made the team’s chances versus Montréal less certain.
Team depth, particularly in the midfield, paid off big time as Ben Sweat stepped up his game and executed his wingback role beyond expectations and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi returned to his starting position of right wing.
Tajouri-Shradi, one of 2018’s top team scorers, has not been consistently in the lineup, which was sparking questions from many fans. The biggest cause for concern prior to this match was the injury of defensive powerhouse James Sands and how the team would fill in for his strength and consistency.
What i think dome will do:
Johnson Ibeagha Chanot Callens Tinnerholm Ring Ofori Sweat Maxi Heber Taty
The depth of the team and the adherence to a strategy of ironically “widening the field” (you know, since we have such a narrow home pitch?) and playing the majority of attacking sequences down the flanks ultimately were the doom of the Impact.
With this ball and player pattern, Montreal had no idea who to cover and how to predict the play, particularly in the second half. Wouldn’t it be interesting if this winning strategy was more effective on the road and the team ended up more successful on the road than at home? Is this likely? Probably not, but it would make things very interesting.
With goals scored by Moralez (6′) and Tajouri-Shradi (49′), the team demonstrated depth in offensive prowess and the ability to generate goals without Designated Player Mitrita and despite striker Héber having a rare non-productive outing.
Also worth noting is that the Impact generated a few first half goal scoring chances but NYCFC’s back line of Sebastien Ibeagha, Alexander Callens and Maxime Chanot ultimately were consistent in their defense.
Next up, NYCFC has three challenging games on the road: LA Galaxy on 5/11, Chicago Fire on 5/25 and Columbus Crew on 6/1 before returning home to host FC Cincinnati on 6/6.
I would anticipate that Coach Torrent will continue to utilize a formation with wingbacks, either with or without Sands. Will this formation be as useful on the narrow home pitch? As of now, City is unbeaten over the past 6 games, but the matchup against the LA Galaxy will be a true test of this apparent upward momentum.
New York City Football Club managed to pull out 7 points in 7 days with glimmers of hope for even better play going forward. To recap, NYCFC played 3 games in a 7 day stretch pulling out a road victory against DC United 2-0, a home victory 1-0 versus Chicago Fire and drawing with Orlando City SC 1-1 most recently.
Not surprisingly, the team’s best performance and the seemingly unlikely road win against a strong DC United, was a result of Coach Dome Torrent playing new Brazilian striker Héber, alongside Alexandru Mitrita and Maxi Moralez. The threesome demonstrated some early signs of offensive chemistry.
Unfortunately, Mitrita suffered an ankle injury in that match resulting in him not playing against Chicago Fire and playing limited minutes off the bench versus Orlando SC. The magical recipe for strong attack combines these three players with a dash of Taty Castellanos and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.
The other big takeaway from the week: James Sands is basically a human honey badger on the field and you know what they say about honey badgers?
Sands, the club’s first homegrown who began starting in a defensive role this season has been the bane of many a seasoned opposing player’s existence. He’s been on NYCFC’s roster for the past three years with limited play time but he has been a constant defensive force this season.
Has the team struggled to score goals this year? Yes, but the team has only lost one match to date.
Over the past three games, Sands took Wayne Rooney out of most of DC United’s attacking chances in the mid field and almost completely neutralized CJ Sapong on Chicago Fire. He gave Nani and Dom Dwyer of OCSC zero space to maneuver. Sands does not defer and even slightly back off very seasoned and sometimes legendary opponents and seems fully committed to sacrificing his body in the process of stopping a play when necessary.
His ability to think ahead and predict the play seems way beyond his 18 years. He deserves a lot of credit for his consistent, physical, intelligent and lack-of-drama style of play.
*Update: Sands has not been in training due to a pulled abductor muscle which happened in the match against Orlando City. So he will, most likely, miss the next match against Montréal Impact on Saturday. So alas, he is an injured honey badger.
NYCFC will make their first attempt to win a match without Sands. I’m a bit nervous.
This week once again proved that anything is possible in MLS as Sporting Kansas City lost to San Jose and LAFC lost to Vancouver. Continuing in this parallel universe of football, New York City Football Club bested the current top team in the Eastern Conference, DC United. The win was in DC and with Wayne Rooney fully fit. Many would never have predicted this outcome but it could be due to the learned helplessness taking over the collective NYC fan psyche. I mean the thinking was, If City can’t even win at home, how will they win on the road?
How did NYCFC pull off this modern day Easter miracle? Many signs point to the debut of City’s new number 9, Héber, who made his first start of the season. Immediately there were signs of chemistry amongst him, new 2019 Designated Player Alexandru Mitrita and the team’s midfield backbone, Maxi Moralez. In a post-match interview Héber compared the style of NYCFC and MLS in general as “tactical” football with more experienced players, while the Croatian league he previously played for was “faster” with younger players.
I read into this as MLS being a more thoughtful and building style of play that stresses keeping possession while patiently moving players around to find the open space. Furthermore, his experience playing with a faster pace means he’s accustomed to opponents being all over him so he can make quick and accurate attacking decisions with limited space. This was fully demonstrated first in his assist to Alexandru Mitrita’s goal in the 35th minute and again in his own finish in the 56th.
It felt like NYCFC had the majority of the possession even though they only had 46%. Maxi Moralez had the chance to make the game 2-0 before the end of the first half on an awarded penalty kick, but his strike hit the post. It is doubtful that the tide of opinion will change any time soon on Coach Dome Torrent, but I do think that the decision to play Ronald Matarrita at left back was the right one as he generates offense out of the back with his pace, energy and overall chemistry with the midfield.
Anton Tinnerholm and Matarrita both enjoy generating and building attacking sequences down the flanks via overlapping runs. James Sands was again Mr Reliable throughout the game applying pressure and stopping most of DC United’s attempts at a counter attack. It was a happy surprise that goalkeeper Sean Johnson had little to do in this match. Although he did have one particularly nice save of a Rooney shot to keep the lead.
A busy week continues with a must-win versus Chicago Fire on Wednesday and a tough test versus a surprisingly in-form Orlando City team on Saturday. Rumors of injuries to several key players make this period even more challenging.
“A tough battle in the Bronx ends in a stalemate” is what I should write about this week’s NYCFC loss -strike that – TIE with Montreal Impact.Yet this should not have been a tough game, particularly with the Impact missing the injured Ignacio Piatti.This should have been a relatively easy home match for New York City.
From where I sat, the game can be summed up as: “Taty Castellanos was trying hard in front of the goal but getting few balls, while Héber isn’t yet fully fit but was basically invisible when he was subbed in.City should have made something of the 20 minutes when they were up a man and, without Maxi Moralez, the team is a rudderless ship.”
It’s interesting how as New Yorkers, we expect the best:in food, entertainment, lodging, museums, shopping. And yet, we seem to historically accept mediocrity from our local sports teams.New York City Football Club is still winless in 2019 over 4 games with three of them at home. The team is actually winless over the past 7 games if you go back to 2018 playoffs. The last win for New York was October 28, 2018, against the Philadelphia Union. Some fans are outspoken in their frustration and others are exhibiting signs of learned helplessness.
So for all of you sad, angry and exasperated NYCFC fans out there, here are some other historically awful winless streaks by New York metro area teams:
New York Knicks – 2018-2019 – 18 game losing streak
New York Nets – 2009-2010 – 18 losses in a row
New York Mets 1962 – 17 game losing streak
New York Islanders – 2010-2011 –14 losses in a row
New York Giants 1976 – 9 game losing streak
Even our winningest New York team, the Yankees, lost 12 in a row in 1908.And the New York Jets in 2014 (and 1975 & 1996) lost 8 in a row and still don’t have their own stadium!
Feel better now?
NYCFC next heads out to the brand-spanking-new Allianz stadium in St. Paul to face Minnesota United Football Club in their very first match in their new home. Most fans have zero expectations except for a loss as the team just can’t seem to win on the road. However, MNUFC was once also a team new to the league playing pretty terribly as recently as last year, also in someone else’s stadium and look at them now. It’s early in the season, but Minnesota is currently in a playoff contention spot, has one of the league’s most attractive stadiums with interactive lights and a deeply devoted fan base.
If New York City FC could get one of these things, it would be a step in the right direction.
All images by Tisha Gale // @tishagale15 on Instagram
New York City Football Club faced Toronto Football Club on Friday night and it may have been the team’s worst showing in its history (that did not involve conceding seven goals to our largest rivals).
For most of the game, it appeared Toronto had 16 players on the pitch and that New York City left their technical abilities elsewhere. Absent of an injured Maxi Moralez, the team was a rudderless ship and spent the bulk of the game chasing Toronto.
The only positive to the game was the beautiful soccer played by Toronto.At some point in the match, perhaps when it was 3-0 TFC, I subconsciously stopped paying attention to the atrocious soccer being played by New York and began admiring the seemingly immediate chemistry between Toronto’s new Designated Player Alejandro Pozuelo andhis new team, particularly with Jozy Altidore.It looked like they’d been playing together for years.Less subconsciously I began feeling jealousy.“Why can’t NYCFC get a DP like that?Not fair!”
What does this mean for the team?
Many fans I spoke to during and after the game were so disheartened that they turned the game off.One fan said, “There is nobody on this team to get excited about.”Maybe new Brazilian striker Héber Araujo dos Santos, known solely as “Héber”, will bring the necessary spark to reignite this team?
Héber arrived in New York on Saturday and is anticipated to play in next week’s home game versus another team who just got shellacked:Montreal Impact.If NYCFC does not beat Montreal, I’m anticipating that the club will part ways with Head Coach Dome Torrent.
With no wins and no stadium, fans will be furious – and rightly so. Perhaps the scheduling gods that didn’t grant us a single home game in May have blessed us with the perfect opponent this coming Saturday with struggling Montreal.
It will take something special to bring back some faith in this team. I think we are all looking for an impact player to step up versus the Impact and start turning this season around.
New York City Football Club hosted Los Angeles Football Club for a St Patrick’s day party in the Bronx on Sunday.This year with no resident “Saint Patrick” Vieira to sprinkle the team with luck, City ended up adding another game to its winless streak.The match had some highs and lows, with most intensity, pace, accuracy and attacking precision shown in the first half, but frustratingly, it did end as another draw.
NYCFC built some tight sequences in the midfield which created multiple opportunities. City maintained nearly 70% of the first half possession but the defensive mistakes cost them big.
New Designated Player Alexandru Mitrita scored his first goal of the season at 39′, but four minutes later LAFC’s Latif Blessing easily jumped on an NYC mistake and fed a perfect pass to Vela, who buried the ball into the goal.NY once again took the lead in the second half when Ben Sweat found Alex Ring in front of the goal at 62′ and set him up for a hammer of a volley. Both of New York’s goals being scored from the left side of the goal.
Exciting for many fans was that Ronald Matarrita started the game at left back.Matarrita’s energy, pace and attacking mindset was definitely a welcome addition to the team chemistry.There was much more pep in the step of the team from the get-go of the game.The energy in the stadium, particularly between the dueling supporter groups seemed to have been fueling City’s players.
Fortunately for NYCFC, LAFC was not playing with their full squad as Lee Nguyen, Alejandro Guido, Steven Betashour, Phillip Ejimadu and Rodolfo Zelaya were on the injured list.
Latif Blessing, who is known as the ultimate super sub who can play vitally any position and generally revitalizes the team when he comes off the bench, started and played the full game. It was Blessing who found Vela to kick off LA’s first fruitful counterattack to tie up the game in the first half.It was Blessing who was fouled by Sweat in the box to earn LA a game-tying PK. So although Sweat did assist Ring in NY’s second goal, he was a mixed blessing.
In honor of our respective cities and their awards show history, I’m handing out awards:
For playing cool, calm and collected, and yet not cocky, I bestow my first official Triple C award to James Sands. The teenager once again showed depth, maturity and grit.
Because he’s just that good and gives off the vibe that he’s having a blast on the pitch, the honorary Marcelo award goes to Carlos Vela.
Best visiting supporters group energy, enthusiasm and etiquette goes to LAFC’s 3252 who not only were the loudest we’ve ever had, particularly from across the continent but they also followed up with a thank you post on NYCFC’s reddit account for the great time.See, there’s the silver lining to a draw.Nobody’s angry.